Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Finding a Traveller

The Clubman that got away - later saved by an enthusiast
I've wanted a Mini estate for years. I've owned Minis since I started to drive and have had several different versions, sedans, Mokes and a Mini Van. The van was great, it could fit a fridge in the back, but it was bit limited for seating. The estates seemed to have the perfect compromise of seats and practicality. Over the years I'd checked out a couple, a slightly rough red Austin Countryman (with steel sides, no wood), which was around 5 times the cost of a comparable sedan, and a Clubman Estate that needed a bit more work than I was capable of at the time - it was only about 3 times the price of a comparable sedan. In hindsight I should have bought either of them. The thing was, I really wanted a woody.

One of the photos from the original ad
There's probably only a dozen or so woodies in Australia so I'd more or less given up on the idea of  finding one locally and was toying with the idea of having a holiday in the UK and bringing one home with me. I mentioned this on the old yahoo Minilist Forum, and quickly got a reply from Brett (bnicho) to say that one was listed for sale on the Ausmini forum (link to original ad). As it turned out it was a nice early woody, I knew these were a bit more special so that really sparked my interest. The sellers, Steve and Mikey, were well known on Ausmini for their fabulous collection of early Minis. The only problem was that they were in Sydney, 1200km by road plus a 450km sea crossing away.  I spent a long time studying all the detailed pictures they had in their ad and it looked to be in remarkable condition for its age so I eventually decided that it was worth the punt. I won't tell you what I paid, but several friends told me I was mad to have paid so much for a mini that was nearly 50 years old, and didn't even run.

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